Berkshire Hathaway 2009 Annual Meeting Audience Question # 21

Warren and Charlie manages Berkshire like they owned one hundred percent of it

Warren Buffett:

I’d like to go back to one point on the earlier question, too.

I always… I frequently ask CEOs of companies what they would do differently if they owned the whole place themselves.

You know, when I’m talking to, either companies where we’ve invested in, sometimes other companies, friends of mine run them.

You know, “What would you do different if this was a hundred percent owned by you and your family?”

And they give me a list of things. There is no list at Berkshire. You know, we basically run this place the same way we’d run if we owned a hundred percent of it.

And that is a difference that… in terms of people joining in with us. They don’t have to adjust their lives to a bunch of rules that are kind of self-imposed, in terms of how people think about public companies, in terms of earnings, predictions, and all of that sort of thing.

And there are certain people that would prefer to be associated with an enterprise like that. And also…following through on this rule I just explained… know that they’ve made a one decision on where that business that they built up over decades and cherish and everything… they make one decision on where it’s going to go, and they’re not going to get surprised later on.

They’re not going to get some management consultant come in and say, “You ought to have a pure player, Wall Street’s saying, so you ought to spin this off or sell it,” or anything like that.

And they know we’re not going to leverage it up. So they know they’re really going to get to do what they love the most, which is to continue to run their business, not bothered by bankers or lawyers or public expectancies or anything of the sort.

And that is a… like I said earlier, that’s a real advantage.


Charlie Munger:

Yeah, in the show business, they say the show has legs if it’s going to last a long time. I think Berkshire Hathaway’s system has legs.

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Q&A with Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger: A Compilation of All Shareholder Questions and Answers from The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Meetings

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